Through the Viewfinder
And What Alice Found There
This week on Monday 14th December we celebrated World Monkey Day! As many of you will know by now, I love animals and after my trip to South Africa earlier this year I have grown especially fond of monkeys.
In many countries monkeys are seen as vermin and farmers and land owners shoot entire troops down to try and rid the areas of these beautiful animals. In January this year I was lucky enough to have the chance to go out and work with one of the first recognised monkey rehabilitation centres in the world - Riverside Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre in South Africa. The centre is run by Bob and Lynne Venter who have dedicated their lives to saving and rehabilitating wildlife, and the work they do is truly inspirational!
I spent 2 weeks volunteering for them with a small group of others, and during my time there I learnt so much about monkeys! It was an amazing experience but also very sad. I was there during baby season which meant there was a high number of orphaned vervet monkeys and baboons coming into the centre. Orphans are often found when whole troops have been killed but the babies have survived by clinging onto their mothers stomachs. They are often discovered alone and starving, struggling for life while their whole family lies dead around them. At Riverside, the orphans are cared for 24/7, with regular bottle feeding and also a lot of playtime - just as their monkey mothers would treat them in the wild!
The hands on element to this experience was amazing and it makes you realise how closely related humans and monkeys really are! They are extremely clever, and also show a lot of emotion. If you show them love and attention then they will begin to trust and recognise you, forming a one-of-a-kind friendship!
I really miss spending time with the young monkeys - as they get older and move through the rehabilitation process they have less and less human contact in order to prepare them for their eventual release back into the wild. I really hope to go back to Riverside one day and see how my babies Jane and Riley have grown, along with all the other cheeky monkeys I met on my trip!
Here are some photos of my time with Riverside...
We also took a 2 day safari trip to Kruger National Park where we were lucky enough to spot some wild baboons! It was amazing to see them living freely out in the open, and it made me so happy to think that all the baboons at Riverside - including the tiny orphans - will one day be back out there living as wild monkeys again!
I hope to return one day but until then I will have to make do with dreaming of my little monkey friends and wondering what they're all getting up to now!
If you'd like more info on Riverside visit their website here!
Watch my video showing the highlights of volunteering with monkeys in South Africa...
Save the monkeys!